A snapshot of iconic media takeovers
New Delhi: In a landmark deal, publishing group Pearson sold The Financial Times Group on Thursday to Japanese media firm Nikkei for £844 million in cash. Mint takes you through some of the iconic deals in the news media sector, including Rupert Murdoch’s almost 50-year-old purchase of American daily New York Post and subsequently The Wall Street Journal to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s purchase of the Washington Post in August 2013.
John Henry buys ‘The Boston Globe’ ($70 million)
In October 2013, Boston businessman John W. Henry purchased The Boston Globe for $70 million in cash, ending 20 years of ownership by The New York Times Co. Henry, principal owner of the Boston Red Sox baseball team and other sports enterprises, agreed in August 2013 to buy the Globe, its websites and affiliated news businesses, and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. He had emerged as the winner in a bidding process that involved half-dozen potential buyers.
IBT Media acquires ‘Newsweek’ (price undisclosed)
In August 2013, IBT Media said it was buying Newsweek from InterActiveCorp (IAC), splitting it from the Daily Beast brand, with plans to make it profitable. IBT, owner of the International Business Times, acquired Newsweek after the 80-year-old magazine shifted to online-only in January 2013 and lost its chief executive in June. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
Jeff Bezos buys ‘The Washington Post’ ($250 million)
In a deal worth $250 million, the Washington Post Co. agreed to sell its flagship newspaper to Amazon.com founder and chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos, ending the Graham family’s stewardship of one of America’s leading news organizations after four generations. In August 2013, when the deal was announced, Bezos said he will himself buy the news organization and become its sole owner. Seattle-based Amazon had no role in the purchase.
AOL buys ‘The Huffington Post’ ($315 million)
On 7 February 2011, AOL Inc. entered into a definitive agreement to acquire The Huffington Post, a US-based online newspaper website, which was founded in 2005, for $315 million. The transaction was aimed at consolidation in the digital ecosystem. The Huffington Post Media Group led by Arianna Huffington has since expanded to multiple international markets and become a content group for the digital age—leveraged across online, mobile, tablet, and video platforms. The online news site entered India last year in December in partnership with the Times of India Group.
Alexander Lebedev buys ‘The Evening Standard’ and ‘The Independent’ for £1 each
In January 2009, Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev succeeded in his bid to buy the London Evening Standard from Lord Rothermere’s Daily Mail & General Trust, for a nominal sum, understood to be £1. The deal, which bought Lebedev a stake of 75.1% in the loss-making Evening Standard, was a watershed moment for the struggling UK newspaper industry; it was the first time a Russian owned a major British newspaper.
In March 2010, Lebedev purchased The Independent newspaper for £1 from Irish publisher Independent News & Media.
Bloomberg takes over ‘Businessweek’ (undisclosed sum)
In October, 2009 Bloomberg LP, the global financial data and news empire created by then New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, became the winning bidder for BusinessWeek. Terms of the offer were not disclosed by Bloomberg and BusinessWeek parent McGraw-Hill Cos. But it is estimated that Bloomberg’s cash offer was in the $2-5 million range. The deal signalled a shift by Bloomberg into more consumer-focused media. BusinessWeek was Bloomberg’s first major acquisition.
Rupert Murdoch buys ‘Wall Street Journal’ ($5 billion)
In August 2007, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. sealed a $5 billion agreement to purchase the publisher of The Wall Street Journal after three months of drama in the controlling family and public debate about journalistic values. A century of Bancroft-family ownership at Dow Jones & Co. was over.
Barclay Brothers buys ‘The Telegraph’ (£260 million)
In July 2004, the Barclay brothers bought The Telegraph Group (now Telegraph Media Group), which includes The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, and The Spectator after months of intense bidding and lawsuits. The Telegraph Group was owned by Hollinger Inc. of Toronto, Canada, the newspaper group controlled by the Canadian-born British businessman Conrad Black. They agreed to pay £260 million for the takeover from Hollinger. The deal was signed in New York with ownership of Hollinger transferring to Press Holdings International (PHI), owned by David and Frederick Barclay.
Murdoch purchases ‘New York Post’ ($30 million)
In 1976, Rupert Murdoch bought the New York Post for $30.5 million. The Post at that point was the only surviving afternoon daily in New York City and its circulation under Dorothy Schiff (the publisher of the Post) had grown by two-thirds, particularly after the failure of the competing World Journal Tribune. The rising cost of publishing an afternoon daily in a city with worsening daytime traffic congestion, combined with mounting competition from expanded local radio and TV news, cut into the Post’s profitability though it made money from 1949 until Schiff’s final year of ownership, when it lost $500,000. Under Murdoch’s watch, the Post veered sharply to the right editorially.